Listening to the River

Registering Riparian Voices as Environmental Pedagogy in Cepo
Thursday, 14 February 2019 - 11:30 am to 1:30 pm
Room number: 
FSS 14001
Contact information
Contact person: 
Scott Simon
Registration required: 
Cost to attend: 
Free of charge
Event language: 
Event sponsors: 
Chaire de recherche en études taïwanaise, HAL

Conférence de Dr. D.J. Hatfield, Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts, Berklee College of Music, Boston

In this presentation, I explore how engagement with riparian voices grounds alternate histories and shared environmental projects on the East Coast of Taiwan. Cepo’, a Taiwanese Indigenous (Pangcah) community on the coast of Hualien County, has both benefitted and suffered from its location at the mouth of the Siugulan River. As Pangcah oral history recounts, river and ocean brought the ancestors of Cepo’ Pangcah to Cepo’ and still delivers resources. The river also conveyed colonial merchants, armies, and settlers (including Taiwan’s ethnic Chinese majority). Thus, Cepo’ Pangcah live in multiply occupied places in which sounds index both ancestral presence and a series of colonial occupations from the mid 19th Century to the present. Working with a group of Cepo’ Pangcah who fish the river mouth as well as Pangcah artist Rahic Talif, I consider how Pangcah register traces of these multiple occupations as voices. The echo of waves within a coastal cave, a drop of dew in a canyon, or the trill of frogs during one part of the year all enter narrative and song. While these are elements of a specifically Cepo’ Pangcah ethics of place, the availability of these sounds in a multiply occupied place like Cepo’ suggests that they might function as what Dwayne Donald has called “artifacts,” paradoxically antagonistic yet conjoined historical markers. Thus Indigneous sonic practices in Cepo’ also provide a framework for forms of environmental action that stress new forms of relationality. To give a sense of these sonic practices, I rely on soundscape documentation, oral historical and archival research, and collaborative sound installation art.